High school students from around North Carolina showcased their language, research and presentation skills at the Learning through Languages High School Research Symposium.
High school students from around North Carolina showcased their language, research and presentation skills at the Learning through Languages High School Research Symposium. (photo by Charlotte Eure ’16)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University sponsored the second annual Learning through Languages High School Research Symposium, with 85 students from 9 North Carolina high schools participating. The program, held Dec. 8, 2016, was an opportunity for North Carolina world language students to showcase their language, research and presentation skills. The event was organized by four Title VI National Resource Centers, including the Carolina Asia Center, Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, the UNC Center for European Studies and the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Learning through Languages offered North Carolina high school students the opportunity to research an area studies topic in their language of study and present their research in the FedEx Global Education Center to UNC and Duke faculty, staff and graduate student judges. Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish students first wrote research papers on current issues across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa. They then created visual and oral presentations, and answered questions about their research projects from judges in their languages of study.

Ron Strauss, executive vice provost and chief international officer, and Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, delivered opening remarks, highlighting the opportunities for language and area studies at UNC and emphasizing the importance of global studies for future college students.

Thirty-one teams participated from the Burlington School, Cannon School, Chapel Hill High School, East Chapel Hill High School, East Mecklenburg High School, Marvin Ridge High School, Military and Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis, the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability, and Southern Wayne High School. Teachers and students alike cited Learning through Languages as an excellent opportunity for their students. For more information about LTL, please visit areastudies.unc.edu/ltl.

Additional support for the event was provided by the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, the Duke University Council for European Studies, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, Qatar Foundation International, the UNC Center for Global Initiatives, the UNC Department of Asian Studies and the UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas.

The students competed for six different awards and honorable mentions. Winners are listed below.

Best Use of Written and Oral Language and Best Scholarship (tie)

  • Zachary Johnson, Laura Meshnik and Dora Pekec from East Chapel Hill High School, teacher Valerie Huet, for “L’analyse Éthique de la Laïcité en France” (“An ethical analysis of secularism in France”)
  • Brendan Holly and Angela Chen from Chapel Hill High, teacher Christen Campbell, for “Tunisiennes retournées à un statut inférieur après le printemps arabe?” (“How have Tunisian women returned to an inferior status after the Arab Spring?”)

Best Visual Presentation

  • Rennica Huang, Yukiko Nakano and Xintong Xiang from East Chapel Hill High School, teacher Molly Brooks, for “Les Catastrophes Naturelles du Japon et des Méthodes de Prévention à L’Avenir” (“Natural disasters of Japan and methods of prevention in the future”)

Best Overall Research Project on Contemporary Asia

  • Chris Hassel, Gabby Dimate and Kayla Merriweather from East Chapel Hill High School, teacher Justin Seifts, for “La pobreza cultural entre los indígenas del sur y sureste de Asia” (“Cultural poverty among Indigenous people in South and Southeast Asia”)

Best Overall Research Project on Contemporary Europe

  • Jesko von Bernuth and Ryan Pecaut of East Chapel Hill High School, teacher Barbara Roeder, for “Warum haben Alte und Junge beim Brexit unterschiedlich gewählt?” (“Why did old and young choose differently in Brexit?”)

Best Overall Research Project on Contemporary Middle East and North Africa

  • Brendan Holly and Angela Chen from Chapel Hill High School, teacher Christen Campbell, for “Comment sont les Tunisiennes retournées à un statut inférieur après le printemps arabe?” (“How have Tunisian women returned to an inferior status after the Arab Spring?”)

Best Overall Research Project on Contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Sophia Janken and Makenna Meyer from East Chapel Hill High School for “Protestando la brutalidad policial: Como nuevas manifestaciones están peleando el sistema de violencia en Brasil” (“Protesting police brutality: How new protests are fighting the system of violence in Brazil”)
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